Have 30 Monarch Cats in house in November-some rearing questions
I know that for most butterfly raisers the season is over, but here we are still having some 80+ daytime temps, and there are still eggs being deposited. I now have around 30 cats indoors, brought in as eggs or young instars. Last year I took them in as 4th-5th instars, and they emerged with OE, some worse than others. I wish they weren't out there to "have" to rescue! !
-I'm thinking of covering the milkweed bushes with blankets at night because of lowering nightime temps, to ensure that I'll have enough food for these guys. I'm battling a host of insects and black mold on the outdoor milkweed as it is. The cooler night-time temps are slowing new growth. Is heavy gauge black plastic sheeting good or better to cover plants at night?
-Am wondering why my 3rd or 4th instars go from a nice yellow and black color to a much darker version, radically darker-so much so that I feel I have to isolate them in different rooms. No emergees yet to know how the "suntanned" ones will come out. Could it be that by adding a trace of liquid plant food to the water that the stems are in, the nitrogen causes them to have darker skin? Maybe having no sun they got darker to try to absorb more ultraviolet light? They get filtered light next to windows, no direct sun. I am baffled.
-Does anyone know what natural nutrient or ? could be added to the water that the stems are in to prolong the life of the stems instead of a trace amount of (Schultz) Liquid plant food...I add it because the stems and tender growth hold up much better with it.
-Anyone know of where to buy a good but inexpensive microscope online? With at least 100X and lighted. About a year ago I saw a link for buying an adequate microscope for $40 on some forum, but didn't write it down and can't find it anymore. Maybe I have to call M. Watch. M Watch is re-vamping their forum it seems.
-One "J" hanging cat has formed a greenish glob-mass at the point where the silk pad must be under the mass. It's attached to a vertical milkweed stem. I'll add a photo when I replace the dead camera batteries.
Am a little worried-I had one J die 10 days ago after attaching to a stick from outside, I wondered if it reacted to the type of wood or was black death? That one reacted at attachment point with globby black mass then turned black from the attachment point on. Also several larvae died from (I'm guessing) black death when I was doing eggs in containers-so I switched to stems in water.
My type of milkweed is narrow and relatively thin for a container-dries out very fast. I would add a few drops of water and must have created a bacteria, fungus or virus soup, I'm guessing. The cats looked fine until a sudden black death at various instars. I'm on the learning curve..This new batch is being raised on stems in water only.
-If the milkweed leaves are washed in dilute bleach in water, could the product that's used in fish tanks to de-chlorinate the water be used to de-chlorinate the MW leaves? then rinsed? Any one try this?
-I'm worn out -feels like changing diapers all day. :) Thanks for any advice!